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How New York Got Its Skyline

3979 ratings | 220596 views
Why do so many of New York's older skyscrapers have a similar design? The answer can be traced back to a monumental 1916 zoning law, which established “setback” requirements for buildings above a certain height. In the heart of the Financial District, the Equitable Building, a historic skyscraper that predates the law, remains a symbol of the excesses of the pre-zoning era. Video by Raymond Schillinger Camera: Brian Schildhorn Additional Production: Ren Potts, Jordan Oplinger Graphics: Christian Capestany Special thanks to: Silverstein Properties Carol Willis - Founder, Director, and Curator of The Skyscraper Museum New York City Department of City Planning Archival Photographs from Getty Images, POND5
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Text Comments (117)
monobg antonina (10 hours ago)
What about all the all glass and steel more modern skyscrapers that just start and continue in a straight line to the top? Like the WTC for example?
jake black (15 hours ago)
Aka top down government central planning produced a policy that had unforeseen consequences: Extreme shortages of city housing and zoning that separates residential/business/industry so far apart communities get broken up and car infrastructure is required.
Allen Zhang (2 days ago)
Do one on Chicago!
Matthew Steinbusch (3 days ago)
Dubai "Our height limit is bloody space"
Takyi Kobbie (3 days ago)
Wow New York in 1960 looks better than my country
cloud ix (3 days ago)
Only took them 25 years #godzilla
Awesome Me (5 days ago)
wait this is not vox?
9/11
Luc Laan (5 days ago)
How about 9/11?
MrGriff305 (5 days ago)
the old twin towers sort of ignored setbacks
MrGriff305 (5 days ago)
Bloomberg .. That makes sense. I think the vertical faces of the twins contributed to their skyline prominence. For example... they always looked much bigger than the Empire State Building from far away. This was an interesting video. Thank you!
Bloomberg (5 days ago)
Thanks for your comment! The original World Trade Center towers (which were built after the updated 1961 Zoning Resolution) were built on a large, multi-block plaza. This meant the towers were technically "set back" from the street far enough to be built to their record-setting heights without a visible setback in the structure.
Shaylah M. (5 days ago)
So interesting!!!!!$
Nathan Schaefer (5 days ago)
Oh wow, this is actually really fascinating
Tristan Möller (5 days ago)
Wow. Learned something, nice video. Glad to see that the Zoning Resolution was very well thought out and worked out for the city. Yeah, here in Europe skyscrapers were proposed in some cities in Germany (of course we barely have need for them), but in many cases we also don’t want them.
Uros Sretenovic (6 days ago)
9/11
AcidOllie (6 days ago)
I must be getting old because I found this absolutely fascinating.
Sam Fox (7 days ago)
Is the One World Trade Center an exception to this code?
Julian Collot (8 days ago)
Death to zoning laws!
WeedTaco (8 days ago)
Speed Levich explained this to me once while on a walk
Andrew Weizer (10 days ago)
I pass that building all the time never noticed hot beautiful it is until now
ShadowWhelp (10 days ago)
Honestly just always assumed buildings were built that way for stability.
cat black (5 days ago)
Sure
Shaylah M. (5 days ago)
ShadowWhelp same!! Lol
Bernadette (10 days ago)
And now I work in this building. Very cool
Bella Umbrellla (10 days ago)
Everything is obscenely large and obnoxiously loud here in the city...but it's home for now, we are gucci💕💕💕
Harley Pearce (10 days ago)
Historically forget suburban implement curtain say before trade volunteer survivor goal possess.
Mark Q (10 days ago)
The original skyscraper NIMBY's. We've been fighting a hard battle with them ever since.
Ben (10 days ago)
omg govt works.
Dodo Shade (10 days ago)
thx . this was informative and interesting.
BHRxRACER (10 days ago)
is that the guy that does wendover productions?
RWB 3vil (10 days ago)
The guy narrating sounds like Otocon from the MGS series
Jai Guru (10 days ago)
While I didn't know the politics behind this, who has eyes and didn't notice the step design of skyscrapers?
Play Thing (10 days ago)
Dude, don't drink coffee or anything that makes your teeth "sticky" before voicing over, I can hear the lip smacks.
Games (11 days ago)
This would be more comfortably watchable if it was edited / uploaded at 60 fps. All those very hard lines u use look terribly juddery at 30 fps
Ethan Tremblay (11 days ago)
Very interesting and informative. Thank you @Bloomberg
xX NarutoShippuden Xx (11 days ago)
Old days: *complains of how big it is* Nowadays: *laughs of how little it is*
Anthony Wijaya (12 days ago)
Too many regulations and rules in America but that's good I guess
AwesomeSauce (12 days ago)
Sounds like mayor was playing cities skylines. Zoning low density and shit.
Santiago Bron (12 days ago)
fuck those zoning laws. those shadow neighbors can suck it.
pamplonaHD (12 days ago)
this is valuable, insightful and interesting. good job Bloomberg.
E. B. C. (13 days ago)
These ratios are not enough. There is a need for a plot ratio. Higher you build, lower percentage of your plot you can build on. Remainder is ground level plaza. Go above forty stories, then 20% of your plot must be plaza and so on.
Robert Divinagracia (13 days ago)
I love videos on NYC buildings!
theblocker039 (14 days ago)
I live in NEW YORK CITY, BROOKLYN,SUNSET PARK!!!!
theblocker039 (5 days ago)
Why?
MemeGod (6 days ago)
theblocker039 adress?
youngurbangod (7 days ago)
I live in Metro Manila, Philippines! I fucking hate it here!
hebneh (14 days ago)
In the 1970s, some art historians mistakenly thought that NYC's characteristic building outlines were due to just to aesthetics and a trend to copy Mayan pyramids, just because they looked good. Nope.
Georgios Tsirtsidis (14 days ago)
"We want our thumbs!!!!" - Bill Hicks
Philip Kuo (14 days ago)
Can someone please explain how 432 Park Avenue happen then?
Bloomberg (14 days ago)
That's a great question. There are provisions in the 1961 zoning code that allow developers to purchase and transfer "air rights" from adjoining lots, allowing supertall skyscrapers like 432 Park to exist without an apparent setback. There's a good explanation of this provision here: http://www.skyscraper.org/EXHIBITIONS/SKY_HIGH/shearwall_invmonopoly.php
Georgios Tsirtsidis (14 days ago)
Illuminati
Phlegethon (14 days ago)
Bloomberg poaching people from Vox?
Anthony Mendenhall (15 days ago)
Skyscrapers now are so thin and shiny. Almost every major city in the US looks really nice from a distance due to this
Dante S. González (15 days ago)
Please, enable closed captions!
Dante S. González (14 days ago)
Hello - I mean, enable permission for users to contribute. I would be great! :)
Bloomberg (14 days ago)
Hello - closed captions in English are available by clicking the CC button on your player.
MrMentalSoul (15 days ago)
Very fascinating -- thanks for doing a video on this!
Phresh Ideas + Designs (15 days ago)
So basically this was a feature on effective land use and urban planning.
Overlord (16 days ago)
Is the law still active? Because it seems that old WTC (was not) and Freedom tower (is not) narrower going up.
Ground shaker (16 days ago)
Nyc is best
Robin Jason (16 days ago)
New york city is the best city in the world 😘🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🗽🗽🗽🗽🗽🗽
Anh Pham (2 days ago)
Nah Tokyo is another level
hax0rman1337 (5 days ago)
NYC and Tokyo best metropolises in the world.
Broken Angel (8 days ago)
Yes but expensive as fuck.. Plus.. Its really crowded
A youtube channel (9 days ago)
Robin Jason Personally I don't like it that much, too big for me. I prefer smaller cities/towns
frstvisuals (16 days ago)
Awesome vid
dan McClaren (16 days ago)
Awesome freaking video!
Darth Utah 66 (17 days ago)
Now New York city is super expensive to live in. I'm sure New Yorkers wouldn't mind more supertalls if it meant lower rent.
Fabián. Arq. (17 days ago)
Great video about the impact of 1916 Zoning Law, still visible nowadays.
ORANG MIN (17 days ago)
i love these essay videos! bloomberg doing awesome shit, now.. 👍👍👍
Enrico Persia (17 days ago)
So many curious things on this channel <3
Dimas Fajar (17 days ago)
From where is the iron came from???
Vlad Amir (17 days ago)
Very interesting! Great video!
Jacob Freeman (17 days ago)
Thanks for the video
agustin venegas (17 days ago)
Huh.. That's awesome actually...
Bob Tomber (17 days ago)
Do Toronto next
H Eck (16 days ago)
Bob Tomber gay
SuperDuperBoy/SDB (16 days ago)
TheAstronomyDude. No you are. No u
Mrbrain bob (16 days ago)
Bob Tomber why?
TheAstronomyDude (17 days ago)
Toronto is a steaming pile of poop.
Renovator (16 days ago)
I feel like New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Toronto, Seattle and most North American cities are the only cities in the whole world that did skyscrapers the right way. When European cities try to add skyscrapers, they look so out of place, look at London's skyline. Pretty ugly tbh. When Asian cities do skyscrapers, they tend to "over-do" them and it just looks like an unorganized mess of buildings.
Braeden Boyd (17 days ago)
hi
Braeden Boyd (17 days ago)
id love to kniw your thoughts on the sky scrapers in sydney melbourne and brisbane ?
Braeden Boyd (17 days ago)
id love to kniw your thoughts on the sky scrapers in sydney melbourne and brisbane ?
hellopuppy00 (17 days ago)
Equitable building built with NO regulations and it still stands today.
Tristan Möller (5 days ago)
Well, the archtitect would want to keep his job and his company would still like to be contracted. That’s the number one incentive.
VideoAmericanStyle (17 days ago)
Actually, there were plenty of regulations at the time for fire safety and other things. The video just says they weren't SIZE regulations at the time.
Rafael Dos Santos (17 days ago)
probably survivor bias
Dhruv Yadav (17 days ago)
This video is the only video with over 10% likes wrt to views (234/2300) and deservedly so.
Benjamin Burkhardt (17 days ago)
Modern skyscrapers are incredibly skinny now
왜그래 (17 days ago)
The Skyline can say "a measure of the economy" Can North Korea appear on the world stage make a skyline? ,.
Arthur (18 days ago)
Great video bloomberg!
Bloomberg (17 days ago)
Thanks for watching!
McmullenEJ (18 days ago)
so New York skyline is like skyline in skyline.
Jacob Woods (18 days ago)
Stunning!
HD (18 days ago)
Such an ugly city.
Paddy Downey (18 days ago)
Learn something new every day. Today: ✅
Link_ 82 (18 days ago)
Most of the citis in america have a amazing skyline
Dela Rosa, Marlon A. (18 days ago)
now those New York architects need to design a waterfall on the side of the Empire State building and be in the world record books for the tallest man made waterfall.
Nacho TV (18 days ago)
0:42 too big? Wonder what they think of Manhattan now 😁
z3r0 5k111 (10 days ago)
that its filled with bums defecating in the streets, probably.
Hoople57 (13 days ago)
I'm down there often. I think your observation is based on how narrow the streets are in that part of New York City.
The Truth (15 days ago)
Would say*
Kenneth Stuart (16 days ago)
Nacho TV .i@
Nacho TV Actually if you ever get to walk around the area the equitable building and Wall Street area has a distinct feeling to it, like walking in a canyon. If you than compare that to other areas like empire state, grand Central or WTC etc. it feels much less massive.

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